One More Turn

februrary

 

 

Can you believe January 2015 is over?

 

 

This past week has brought many changes into my life. I have a new job. I will still be a nurse, but I’m going to transition out of the operating room and into a hospice position. It’s an extreme change—but hey, why change half way?

I’ve also decided to re-enter the world of direct sales.

It’s been a week of big decisions and exciting opportunities.

We’ve almost made it to the end of Joseph’s story. I like to keep things neat, but his story is going to spill over into February. Not all of life can be as neat as the calendar.

February carries with it the notion of love. If you aren’t sure what to give those you love this year can I make a suggestion? Perhaps you can share the amazing story of grace with the ones you love. I have 3 devotional books you can order from Amazon.com. Each has zero calories but offers a sweet look a God’s amazing grace.

Finding the Holy in a mundane world is a good read for the new believer or non-believer. It offers an introduction to God’s character, Jesus’ example of grace, why grace is AMAZING and the call of the Christian life—doing good things not simply following a list of “don’ts”

The Books We Never Read is the best bargain—it’s a 3 month devotional. If you think the Old Testament is irrelevant to your life today, read the books we never read and you’ll find the story of God’s grace told and re-told in the lives of people with funny names, who lived in places with strange names, but who share the same struggles you do. You’ll also find the same grace tucked in these ancient stories.

A Clever Disguise if you’ve read my devotional blog, you understand, Ozzy is my handsome gentleman who is wonderful in every way!   Ozzy is my schnoodle—schnauzer-poodle mix. He’s a great dog that teaches me every day about grace, trust, dependence and obedience. If you have a dog lover in your life—this is the devotional book for him or her. It’s priced for gift giving.

You can find a link to the blog on Pintrest—Repin it when you see it!

Thanks to those of you who share my blog link, who have signed up to get an email each day when the blog posts, and who click the “like” button on Facebook! Those little things make a big difference!

If you doubt God’s ability to use the unqualified, to do more than I could ask or even imagine, scroll down and peek at the world map in the right hand column. Each one of those “*” represents a country where people have seen Finding the Holy in a mundane world. If you have shared this blog with someone, you are part of a worldwide ministry. God truly is amazing!

Here are the links for last week’s posts—I missed Friday—I had some technical difficulties but I’m back up and running!

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

In the Middle of Famine

With Great Power…

What Only God Can Do

It’s a Matter of Trust

Make a difference! Swim upstream! Be a light!

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It’s a Matter of Trust

trust

Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, “Out, all of you!” So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was. Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh’s palace.

 “I am Joseph!” he said to his brothers. “Is my father still alive?” But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them. “Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.

“Now hurry back to my father and tell him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me master over all the land of Egypt. So come down to me immediately! You can live in the region of Goshen, where you can be near me with all your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and everything you own. I will take care of you there, for there are still five years of famine ahead of us. Otherwise you, your household, and all your animals will starve.’”

 Then Joseph added, “Look! You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that I really am Joseph! Go tell my father of my honored position here in Egypt. Describe for him everything you have seen, and then bring my father here quickly.” Weeping with joy, he embraced Benjamin, and Benjamin did the same.  Then Joseph kissed each of his brothers and wept over them, and after that they began talking freely with him. Genesis 45:1-15 (NLT)

Not all stories end well. You don’t need to be very old to realize that. This entire story is far from over, but for Jacob and Joseph, the story ends well.

Joseph was fortunate—he saw the happily ever after. It’s uplifting for us to read it—but I’ll bet your first thought is, my stories never end this way. As Joseph rode on a camel headed to Egypt with his hands likely tied, he probably would not have predicted this outcome. As Joseph listened to Mrs. Potiphar’s accusation and watched as betrayal and anger appeared on Potiphar’s face—I’m sure this ending was not the one Joseph anticipated. Imprisoned and forgotten, Joseph probably felt his life was over.

Do you think in the quiet moments, alone in prison, Joseph questioned his interpretation of his youthful dream? Do you think Joseph wished he had just kept his mouth shut? Joseph was a person just like you and me—so I have to think he did.

Joseph’s kind words to his brothers—…but don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives—are easier to say once the story makes sense. Once the suffering and struggle fall into place, once the resolution is obvious, it’s often easy to see how God worked out the circumstances.

It’s not always that easy in the middle of the story. In fact, I’m going to say—it’s rarely that easy. That’s when trust and the confident hope in God’s goodness, love, power and the truth that He sees the beginning, middle and end, is a necessity.

That makes recounting or rehearsing the stories of how God worked out impossible circumstances important. That is why these stories are preserved—to glorify God—to show His loving kindness, His justice, His holiness and His power.

How God works in your life is likely different from how He works in mine. The fine details are different—the big picture is the same. God can use tragedy in the life of the one who trusts Him for His glory.

Father, when the outcome is unimaginable, help me to trust You. When I can’t see how things will ever work out, help e trust Your love, Your power and Your timing. Teach me to rest in all that You are and abandon my attempts to control things that are beyond my control. I will trust the plan You have for me.

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What Only God Can Do

forgive 2Judah answered, “Oh, my lord, what can we say to you? How can we explain this? How can we prove our innocence? God is punishing us for our sins. My lord, we have all returned to be your slaves—all of us, not just our brother who had your cup in his sack.”

Genesis 44:16 (NLT)

The details of Joseph’s set-up are in Genesis 41-44. Joseph’s motive was not revenge. The last time Joseph saw his brothers, all but one was plotting his death. The hoops Joseph made his brothers jump through gave Joseph insight into his brother’s character.

Joseph set up one more test for his brothers. Joseph hid his silver cup in Benjamin’s bag of grain. When the cup spilled out of the bag, the brothers offered Joseph the only apology he got, “God is punishing us for our sins.” Notice Joseph didn’t respond to that statement.

If Joseph had his feelings in mind, if he was holding out for an apology from his brothers, he was certainly disappointed. Throughout their interaction, the brothers referred to Joseph as our one brother is no more and finally, they admitted Benjamin’s brother is dead. This bunch of scoundrels didn’t tell Joseph we plotted to kill our brother but sold him instead because he was dad’s favorite and we found him annoying—that act has plagued us since the day it happened. In fact, the brothers didn’t acknowledge they had anything to do with the younger one’s disappearance.

There was no apology.

Have you waited for an apology that never came? Have you tried to make the person who hurt you “pay for it?” Has disappointment been added to your resentment as the person who should apologize goes on to live his life without any acknowledgement of his wrongdoing?

That’s a tough spot. It hurts. I’ve been there—I’ve waited for the apology that never came.

It’s at that point when one realizes, forgiveness isn’t about the other person. Forgiveness is something you do to free yourself. It is an act. It’s not a feeling. Forgiveness is often a repetitive action because feelings don’t simply disappear—especially feelings of hurt and betrayal.

When feelings begin to overtake you, act in forgiveness. Make the choice to forgive. Make the first move, even if the first move is the thought, “I forgive_______ for _______.” Joseph didn’t begin by saying, “I forgive you.” to his brothers. He acted without revenge or anger.

A few years later, Joseph’s kindness and his lack of revenge worried the brothers. Even with all Joseph’s kindness, once Jacob died, the brothers thought Joseph would punish them for what they did him.

It’s the perfect example. No matter how much you try, you can’t control the actions and emotions of others. It’s in Genesis 50 that Joseph admits, God is the judge of others behavior and Joseph kindly reassured his brothers—they were safe—there was no revenge.

Joseph offers us an example of God’s forgiveness—complete, undeserved, and without revenge for our wrongdoing.

It’s the kind of act that makes the believer different—gracious forgiveness.

Father, soften my heart. Help me not to seek revenge when I’m wronged. Empower me to act in forgiveness and kindness even when I FEEL like seeking revenge—even if I feel I deserve revenge. Give me Your loving heart for those who have wronged me. Help me forgive when no apology is offered. Help me be like You. Help me act in grace.

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With Great Power…

spiderman

Then ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt.  But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him…

…They replied, “The man questioned us closely about ourselves and our family. ‘Is your father still living?’ he asked us. ‘Do you have another brother?’ We simply answered his questions. How were we to know he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?”…

…Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack.  Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.” And he did as Joseph said.

As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys.  They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, “Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil?  Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.’”

When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them.  But they said to him, “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that!  We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house?  If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.”

“Very well, then,” he said, “let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame.”

Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it.  Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.  At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city. Genesis 42:3-4, 43:7, 44:1-13 (NIV)

Genesis 42-44

If you like comic books or movies, the sage words of Uncle Ben to young Peter Parker are probably familiar to you, “With great power comes great responsibility.” The two go hand in hand—or they should. Many people enjoy the great power but try and shirk the responsibility.

If you are a dreams do come true person, you’ll like Genesis 42-44. Joseph’s brothers do bow down to him. Joseph makes them squirm. It seems right—as a group, Joseph’s brothers were terrible people—they deserved a little heat from the brother they wronged.

I don’t know about you but a superficial read of these chapters makes Joseph look like a bit of a jerk. Joseph recognized his brothers immediately. Joseph assimilated in to Egyptian culture, speaking Egyptian and 20 years older was unrecognizable to his brothers. Joseph could have skipped to the end at the first meeting. Instead, Joseph put his brothers through some gut wrenching tests.

Back to a movie quote. If you like Sci-fi, you are probably familiar with Kahn’s question to Captain Kirk at the end of Star Trek II, “You know the Klingon proverb, ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold.’?” It’s actually a quote from French literature in 1800’s but the truth still stands. Revenge is best when those who deserve it get it after a long wait, when it’s unsuspected.

That is the example Joseph has to offer us today. Joseph’s convoluted method seemed mean but his actions had a purpose. That purpose was not revenge. That makes Joseph different.

Let’s work through this equation. Let’s say, your bothers sold you to some slave traders who took you to a distant country. Although a good master purchased you, you remained a slave. Then, your master’s wife lied and you were imprisoned. The prisoner who could get you released forgets to mention you and you stay in jail for 2 more years. THEN—one day you stand in front of Pharaoh and he tells you about his dreams. Suddenly, you become the second most powerful person in the world. A couple of years after that, after royalty and privilege become the norm—your evil, terrible brothers who sold you to the Ishmaelite-traders are bowing in front of you.

I don’t know about you—perhaps your heart is more pure than mine—I’d be tempted to grind on my brothers. Those brothers owed Joseph some skin. They made him suffer just because they were jealous. It would be payback time if I were standing in Joseph’s shoes. The funny thing is, if that happened, we would cheer for Joseph. He deserved it—Joseph deserved his revenge.

Joseph decided to be different.

When asked, “How do you define what being a Christian is?” My friend so aptly answered, “Acting in unusual ways.” Ways so unusual that non-believer can’t help but notice. What qualifies as unusual?

  • Loving your enemy.
  • Doing good to those who do evil to you.
  • Being generous to those who don’t “deserve” generosity.
  • Being patient, kind, gentle, meek…

You get the picture.

That is what Joseph did. That’s the example for you and me. Paul had not written the words yet, but Joseph acted them out:

Never pay back evil with more evil.

Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Romans 12:17 (NLT)

 

Let me change Uncle Ben’s quote; With great responsibility, comes great power.  The believer’s responsibility is to forgive in the same way God forgives—totally and freely. Forgiveness is powerful. Forgiveness is not a feeling—it’s an action. Forgiveness empowers the one offering it to live a life free of bitterness, pain and resentment.

Forgiveness makes the believer unusual.

 

Father, help me be unusual today. When my desires well up in my heart, remind me of the forgiveness You gave to me when I deserved only punishment. Make me different. Make me a light to those in darkness.

 

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In the Middle of Famine

we-survive-in-adversity-and-perish-in-ease-and-comfort

Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked. “From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.” Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him.  Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”   Genesis 42:6-9 (NIV)

Joseph’s story is about to get interesting.

The cast of characters now includes the brothers who appeared at the beginning of the story. If you aren’t familiar with this band of scoundrels, I’ll catch you up on their activities.

  • The brothers, in an act of revenge for their sister’s rape, deceived and slaughtered all the men in a village, taking all the women captive.
  • Ruben (the oldest) slept with his father’s concubine
  • Judah had a son so wicked and evil God killed the son.
  • Judah also got his daughter-in-law pregnant thinking she was a prostitute.
  • The 10 brothers sold Joseph to slave traders headed for Egypt and lied to their father telling him Joseph was dead. (Benjamin was not part of the plot)

Wow! That’s a sad epitaph. It makes me wonder, perhaps part of God’s plan was to separate Joseph from this band of evil brothers. That’s just my thought.

One of the most difficult things to remember when reading the Bible is this; the people you’re reading about didn’t know the end of the story. We get the privilege of seeing all the parts unfold knowing the end of the story. Jacob, Joseph and his brothers were just living their lives when the famine changed their world.

Joseph had seven years under his belt as the second in command of Egypt. The twinge of guilt his brothers felt diminished over time as Jacob came to accept life without his precious son. Joseph knew a famine was coming. He prepared Egypt well. Life for Joseph was finally “normal.”

The other people in the world were hungry and as one year led to another, more desperate. God was in the process of shaking things up with this crisis.

Those who don’t know God as a loving Father, criticize His methods. Superficially, His methods seem harsh. Practically, His methods work.

If you are like me and most other people, you feel loved by God when things are going well and feel put off when difficult times come or when a crisis arises. Joseph’s slavery, his false imprisonment, the famine—no one would choose those situations.

No one except God.

God uses adversity not as a punishment but as a way to turn people bent on their own path, back to Him. God uses crisis to nudge the complacent soul, content to live day-to-day with mind-numbing routine, back into His loving arms. God chooses intolerable circumstances to drive the believer back to His agenda.

God leaves the choice up to you. Believe me; I’ve tried with bull-headed stubbornness to do things my way. I’ve been in the middle of a whirlwind of crisis and opted to work through it on my own. I’ve blamed God for not bailing me out of terrible situations. I’ve tried all sorts of other remedies and in the end, weary and defeated, I find myself wishing I had chosen God’s way at the beginning.

Take note, the famine came and it was real—so was God’s provision.

If you are struggling with difficult times, reach out to God. God can and will sustain you in the middle of the struggle. If you are spinning in crisis, accept God’s loving invitation.

Father, help me to reach out to You in difficult times. Remind me of Your love for me when my circumstances are bleak. Remind me of Your mighty power. Give me the grace to reach out to You on days when I think I can handle it on my own. Remind me that Your love for me is never-changing and deeper than I can imagine.

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The Waiting is the Hardest Part

waiting dog

Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt. Genesis 41:46 (NIV)

Genesis 41

“Will you just settle down?”

During my life, I’ve heard that sentence countless times. I am impatient. I know that is unholy—God has gone to great lengths to change me into His image. I’ve kicked and screamed during some of God’s lessons. I’ve failed many tests. I’ve not completed my course of study yet, but I have made some progress.

Impatience has a couple of siblings; worry and doubt.   So, if God has you attending classes as well, you have encountered all three.  The three seem intertwined—almost inseparable. No? As a believer if I truly believe God’s promises, I should not experience worry. God promises He is in control of every situation. When doubt creeps in, worry begins. Impatience is the action of worry. Impatience plays itself out in impetuous, desperate actions.

When I’m truly honest with myself—you know, the kind of honesty that makes your heart ache when you finally admit the truth to yourself—I doubt God sometimes. I doubt that he’s paying attention to me. I doubt that He fully understands my situation. I doubt that He will finish what He started. I doubt His love for me. Are my thoughts that overt? Not usually, but when I’m tempted to take matters into my own hands, to “fix” problems that don’t resolve quickly, to try to “fix” the people around me, or to push forward with my head down and my feet moving without consulting God or His word, I’m acting in impatience—I’m acting in worry and doubt.

If I believe that truth that God loves me and is working on my behalf regardless of how the circumstances seem, waiting should not pose a problem. Waiting—the cousin of doubt and worry. If God only worked on MY time line—I’d never worry. At least that’s what I think.

In Genesis 37, we met Joseph—a 17 year old, (probably) spoiled brat. THIRTEEN years later, Pharaoh is handing over his signet ring to Joseph. You can probably read Genesis 37-41 in less than an hour—including the chapter about Judah and Tamar. This story takes place over 13 years.

I sometimes have trouble waiting 13 minutes.

Does it make a difference?

What does my doubt, worry and impatience tell the world about the God I say I love? Does it make Him seem powerless? Does it confuse the nonbeliever when I say, “God is powerful” and then act as if He can’t or won’t intervene on my behalf just because I have to wait?

If you’re uncomfortable right now—I’m right there with you.

Joseph caught the eye of all those around him. It wasn’t because he went to church on Sunday morning. It wasn’t because he carried his Bible to work. It wasn’t because he only listened to KJEW the local Hebrew radio station.  Those things aren’t what made Joseph different from the other slaves Potiphar owned.  Those activities aren’t what got Joseph noticed in prison.

Those things aren’t the things that make believers and non-believers different.

How can I be different from those around me if I can’t act like I believe what I say about God?

Joseph believed –in spite of the circumstances. Joseph acted as if he believed. Joseph knew that slavery and prison were not his destiny. While he waited, Joseph served conscientiously. Joseph acted with integrity—knowing Potiphar was his earthly master—but understanding he served another Master, as well.

Joseph came to Egypt a young slave. He didn’t understand the culture or the people. It took thirteen years to prepare Joseph for the task God had for him. That truth is only evident midway through the story.

Actions arise from belief.

Ask yourself the same question I’ve asked myself this week—What do I believe about God? Can I trust Him to act on my behalf? How does waiting prepare me for the task I’m called to complete? Do I trust God enough to school me properly—am I a teachable student?

What message does that kind of life give to those round me?

Father, I need Your help—waiting is difficult for me. When Your best plan is for me to wait, remind me of Your love for me. Remind me of Your power. Help me live like I believe in a loving, powerful God. I will make knowing You better a priority for my life this year. Teach me that I can trust You.

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How Do You Define “Blessed”?

Reading Ozzy

This week we met Joseph. The young teen with a bad beginning who, like Daniel, was different enough to be noticed.

I hope I’ve encouraged you to God to make you different—not freak-show different. Not just different looking—but different on the inside. That difference leads to a life of power. That difference makes the believer’s life a light on the hill and the salt of the earth.

Over and over again, the Bible tells us Joseph was “blessed” or that “God blessed him.” Hmmm.  It’s an interesting perspective.

Below are the links for last week’s posts.

IF YOU ARE A PINTREST USER I have a board for my blog. You can “Pin” a post if you like it and want to share it using one of the share buttons below. (If you don’t know what that means—don’t worry—it actually means you are much more productive with your free time than some of us!)

Scroll down. On the right hand side you’ll see Ozzy promoting one of my devotional books.  Any one of them would make a great, unique Valentine’s Day gift.  Ozzy’s book, A Clever Disguise is priced for gift giving.  If you have a dog lover in your circle of friends, they will love this book!  (Thanks for your support)

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!  You can post a comment below or comment on Facebook.

At the end of the post, you’ll notice some social media icons. Ignore the ones you aren’t familiar with, but you can click on the ones you know and share this (or any) post via, Pintrest, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Google+, Tumbler or email it to a friend.

You can click on the printer if you’re connected to one and print a hard copy.

Joseph’s life is about to change (again). He still has a few more lessons to offer us!

Come back tomorrow! in the mean time—Click away!

 

God can turn the most dismal beginnings into a grand finale.

Those tedious training days finally paid off.

If this is God’s blessing, maybe I’d rather have God just ignore me.

I’m happy for Joseph that he was in an Egyptian prison.

Without careful consideration, disappointment with people easily transfers to disappoint with God.

Are you an annoying licker?

See you tomorrow!

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Licking Your Wounds

lickingSometime later the king of Egypt’s wine steward and his chief baker offended the king. He was angry with these two officials and put them in prison in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same place where Joseph was being kept. They spent a long time in prison, and the captain assigned Joseph as their servant.

One night there in prison the wine steward and the chief baker each had a dream, and the dreams had different meanings. When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were upset. He asked them, “Why do you look so worried today?” Genesis 40 1-6 (GNT)

SLURP-Slurp-slurp…SLURP-SLURP…slurp-slurp-slurp…

“Stop licking!”

If you don’t have a dog, I can’t really explain how annoying it is to be awakened by the sound of licking. If you have a dog, especially one that shares your bed, you probably know what I mean.

Ozzy had some food sensitivities that manifested in itchy skin—especially itchy paws. More than once the juicy sound of licking has awakened me from a sound sleep.  I had a dog, Jack, who was a compulsive licker. If Jack got upset, he would lick to calm himself. The only problem—licking doesn’t make Ozzy’s paws better not did it calm Jack, he would lick for hours if not redirected.

I try to be understanding—dogs don’t have a lot of options—it’s tongue, teeth and claws. So, I guess if the paws itch or something freaks you out—the tongue is the remedy of choice.

Dang! It’s annoying.

So annoying, that I’ll put ointment on Ozzy’s paws and wrap them to stop his incessant licking. I would get up and play with Jack in the middle of the night just for some quiet.

I wish Ozzy understood the non-stop licking only leads to more pain. Ozzy has licked his paws raw. His itchy feet resulted in feet with open sores—not quite the outcome he was hoping for. Jack never found solace in licking—not even after the sofa pillow was saturated with his spit.

That’s annoying!

Are you an annoying licker?

Look for a moment at Joseph’s example. Potiphar, in a cellar-like prison, imprisoned Joseph.   If that’s not bad enough, two new prisoners enter after angering Pharaoh. Potiphar assigned Joseph to care for these two men. Joseph is not only a prisoner, now he’s a servant to other prisoners! I believe that qualifies as adding insult to injury.

Care Joseph did—he tended after these men long enough to read their body language. He cared enough to ask about their worries. All while, HE was falsely imprisoned.

What a testimony. What determination. What devotion to Jehovah! Joseph didn’t know that the cupbearer would be his way out—Joseph wasn’t trying to earn points.

Joseph understood one thing—he had a dream and the truth of the dream secured his future. Joseph didn’t know the path he’d take to arrive at that future. Joseph acted as if he understood the truth—as if the truth was TRUE—someday men would bow down to him. He understood the truth while he was a prisoner and a servant. He knew the truth while he bowed to others. He knew the truth when his circumstances seemed to lead him in the opposite direction of greatness.

I’ll be honest, I’ve also cowered in the corner, licking my figurative wounds, trying to make myself feel better. I’ve been hurt and wronged. I have felt sorry for myself. The only thing the licking accomplished was a plot for unholy revenge and more pain. My licking never accomplished the desired result.

As believers, we don’t need to rely on dreams. God gave His word to us. He put some skin in the game. He wrote down His promises so there would be no misunderstanding. God tells the believer the final outcome and He shares the promises of the journey. The steps in between—those require faith—faith in the truth of the promises.

Is it scary? Sometimes.

Is it a two-steps-forward-one-step back progression? Sometimes.

Does every turn of the path make sense? Rarely during the stretch.

Is God’s love and plan ever thwarted? NEVER!

Joseph offers a larger than life response to his situation. Joseph’s life serves as an example for our instruction, encouragement and hope.

If you’re tired of licking your wounds, begin looking for the promises in God’s word. Instead of trying to comfort yourself, ask God for His healing comfort.

Be different.

Be noticeable.

Swim against the flow.

Father, when I’m wronged, tired and confused, help me to rely on You. Bring me to a place of submission to your plan for me and give me the strength to be a servant, to trust in Your plan, to keep moving when things don’t make sense. Let my life be a testament to Your grace and glory!

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Disappointment’s Rollercoaster

rollercoaster

And please remember me and do me a favor when things go well for you. Mention me to Pharaoh, so he might let me out of this place…Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought. Genesis 40:14,23

I tricked my sister into riding the roller coaster. It’s not a proud moment for me –but I still chuckle when I think of it. I took Twila, my sister with Down’s Syndrome to the amusement park. As we walked in, she saw the train that circled the periphery of the park. She excitedly exclaimed, “I want to ride the train!” Well, I didn’t pay money to ride a slow train in a circle. I told her we were going to ride a “better” train and we got in line for the Tornado. As roller coasters go, the Tornado is lame but compared to the choo-choo train that circled the park it was amazing.  The picture today is NOT the Tornado!

Twila watched as the riders ahead of us boarded and started their ride. She watched as the cars slowly inched up the first, big hill. Click-click-click—Twila turned to me and with wide eyes said, “Too high!” I reassured her it was not too high and that it would be fun. When our turn came, she reluctantly took her seat.

I tried to convince her it would be fun. Now the click-click-click took us up the hill. With each click, Twila sunk further into her seat. As we reached the top, I told her we were going to go down “really fast.” No words could prepare for the three-story drop.  She white-knuckled her way to the end with me shouting what was about to happen next, “We’re going to go up again…now, we’re going to go sideways…we’re going to go down really fast!” My play-by-play didn’t calm her fear.

At the end, Twila exclaimed, “WOW! That shook my face—IT WAS FUN!” When I asked her if she wanted to ride again, she as emphatically said, “NO!”

Here’s the roller coaster recap for Joseph. He started out his dad’s favorite son. His brothers sold him into slavery and he was taken to Egypt—away from his family and everything he knew. He became the slave of Potiphar and over time became Potiphar’s right-hand man. Mrs. Potiphar attempted to seduce Joseph and when he declined her advances, lied about him and Joseph ended up in prison. Again, over time, God’s blessing, along with Joseph’s abilities and integrity caught the eye of the jailer, and Joseph was promoted—but he was still in prison.

How’s that for up and down? Just like the roller coaster, the ups take time and the downs occur with breakneck speed. Through all the ups and downs Joseph remained consistent in his commitment to God. His life was different enough for those around him to take note.

Remember when we met Joseph, back at home with his brothers and dad? Remember the dreams he had that pushed his brother’s jealously over the edge? What do you think went through Joseph’s mind as days turned to weeks, weeks to months and months to years?

I’m sure there were days in Potiphar’s house when Joseph thought, This is it—the dream is about to come true. I’m sure there were days on the camel ride to Egypt, his first years in Potiphar’s house and in prison, those thoughts were more like, God! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

Disappointment is a crossroad—one path leads to hope, the other despair.

Without careful consideration, disappointment with people easily transfers to disappoint with God. Joseph’s brothers and to some extent his father, Potiphar, and Pharaoh’s cupbearer—all of these people disappointed Joseph. Still, Joseph remained faithful—his confident hope remained in God.

People will let you down. The people you should be able to trust explicitly, may let you down the hardest. Circumstances change as time marches on. There is one thing that doesn’t change—God.

If you find yourself at the crossroad of disappoint—choose hope. Let your confident hope in God help you live a life of consistent, noteworthy integrity.  Trust in God’s love for you and His power to make the bleak circumstances of your life into something glorious.

Father, when I’m tempted to turn down the path of despair, remind me of Your love for me. When the circumstances of my life and my disappointment with the actions of others cause me to question Your love and plan for me, give me new insight into Your deep love and power. Holy Spirit grow that confident hope in my spirit. Give me the power to live a life that causes other to see God’s mighty power working in me.

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This is Blessed?

disintegrat

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.  Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

Romans 5:1-6 (NLT)

I’m sure you can imagine, I love words.

One of my favorite words—disintegrate. Not only do I like the sound of it, the word defines itself. Disintegrate—not to put together, to take apart—to DIS integrate. As a child watching Saturday morning cartoons, I laughed out loud when Daffy Duck pulled out his “disintegrating pistol” and the pistol turned to dust when he pulled the trigger. Daffy’s comment, “When it disintegrates, brother, it disintegrates.”

Joseph: yesterday we left him falsely accused and in prison. We don’t know what was going through his mind. My imagination can fill in the blanks. I know what I would think in that circumstance.

I doubt I would think of the word “blessed” if I was Joseph.

Here’s what I imagine.

Since Joseph was in an Egyptian prison, and since Paul hadn’t written these words yet, Joseph was spared the kind and caring reminder that suffering is actually good for the believer. If you caught a whiff of sarcasm in that sentence, you are on your game today!

I do believe that suffering is good for the believer. I know, from experience being offered the reminder in the middle of suffering, doesn’t make the one suffering feel better. This is a touchy subject with me. I’ve suffered. I’ve seen suffering. I’ve felt the sting of the glib reminder that all things work together for good. I’ve watched as the trite recitation of rejoice in your suffering eroded the faith that was all ready thin.

I’m happy for Joseph that he was in an Egyptian prison.

Look at the words

If you are suffering today—take heart! Perhaps the first and last sentences of the passage will give you strength.

Although it sounds flippant, can I offer you this profound truth? If you define God using your circumstances, you will always be disappointed in God. If you define your circumstances using God’s truth, you will find peace.

If you are not suffering today—make the most of Joseph’s lesson. Just like the practice drills for CPR, “easy days” are the days to pre-prepare for suffering. Jesus gave the heads up to all His followers when He told them, you will have trouble.

If you are having an “easy day” look at the words associated with the believer’s suffering.

    • Stand
    • Looking Forward
    • Joyful and Rejoicing
    • Endurance
    • Strength of Character
    • Confident Hope
    • Not Disappointed

Those are powerful words, not shrinking, pitiful words.   God would indeed be unjust, perhaps even unkind if suffering had no purpose. As a believer, you can rest assured that God is not simply squeezing you just to make you squirm. God has a plan to change you into the image of His Son, Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but I’m still in need of a lot of reshaping.

Joseph is blessed by God and suffering unjustly. As we read over the passages in Genesis, it takes just a few moments.   For Joseph, it was years—years of grand success due to God’s blessing—years of dismal suffering due to God’s blessing.

You can’t define God in terms of your circumstance. Don’t wait until you’re in the pit of despair to try to figure out these verses in Romans 5. Don’t wait until you’re in pain. Don’t wait until the situation seems hopeless to convince yourself of the confident hope God offers.

God’s Blessing?

Don’t believe this lie; If God really loved me, I’d have all the things I wanted and everything would be great.

Believe the truth of God’s blessing; When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

We’ll revisit Joseph tomorrow and we’ll find him still in prison.

Father, thank you for Christ! Thank you for Your plan for my life—to make me like Christ. Thank You for sharing Your plan with me! Teach me when the pressure is light to learn about You—Your grace and love –so on days when the pressure is high, I can rest in knowing You are making me stronger. Help me be sensitive to those in pain—lavish Your grace on them.

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